Creative Mondays #008 – Create a Catalog of Ideas.
Here is the third installment of creative ideas I took away from seeing Joel Hodgson’s talk “Riffing Myself” in Northern California recently. I highly recommend going to see this show, even if you aren’t a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. It’s a great show for anyone who is creative and, to me, gives great insight on how things, great things like Mystery Science Theatre 3000, are created. You can read the previous two blogs here: Don’t do what you don’t want to do & Nothing ever comes out done.
This final topic is actually a topic that I already have written on and was scheduled to come up soon here on the blog. I may touch upon it again in upcoming weeks, but I really waned to use Joel’s talk as a springboard to write on this idea. The idea of a creative idea book.
Joel told the story of taking a sculpture class in college where the instructor made all the students buy a big, black, hardbound sketch journal to use in the class. Joel thought the idea was a bit pretentious in that he felt he didn’t have any ideas worth putting into a hardbound journal, but it was a requirement so he picked one up. In his talk, Joel actually shows scans of the first two pages of the journal they are filled with ideas for different sculptures. Then he shows a scan of the third page where there are sculpture ideas on the top of the page and below is an, almost comical, mock up of a trick Joel wanted to create for his magic act. He then goes on to show other pages and, never again, were any of the pages adorned with sculpture ideas. From that page on it was ideas for things Joel wanted to create.
Joel calls this his Catalog of Ideas. He likens it to the old magician’s catalog he loved thumbing through as a kid. Full of wondrous things. Possibilities. Things that may happen of may not. His Catalog of Ideas was a storehouse of thoughts on things to create. Some he acted on immediately. Others lay dormant on the page, perhaps to be acted on in the future. He also spoke how, a lot of times, several different ideas in the Catalog would be combined together to create something completely different from anything else. He wrapped this part of the speech up by showing a picture of a closet, I’m assuming, in his office that is now full of large, black, hardbound sketch journals. His catalog of ideas. (Side Note: If you’re as big a fan of Joel’s as I am, wouldn’t you just love to thumb through those?)
So, a Catalog of Ideas. I have to admit, I don’t really keep one like the one Joel mentions in his talk. I think Joel is a lot more visual than I am where I prefer to write things out. Most times if I have an idea I will type it into the notes on my phone. Or I’ll just let it rattle around in my head until it’s so big I just have to act on it. I have recently been keeping a sort of idea journal. It has some ideas but it also has notes from meetings and classes, so it’s not strictly an idea journal. But you know what? I’m going to take it as a challenge to start a Catalog of Ideas of my own. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Again, I will plug Joel’s show. Go see it. For info visit his website here – www.JoelHodgson.com
Do you keep your own Catalog of Ideas? If so, how long have you done it? Tell us about it in the comments below. If you don’t keep one, how do you store all your creative ideas? Again, let me know below.
I have various little books here and there that have things I’ve put in. Unfortunately, much of them have become a gathering of styles of toilets, faucets and lights for the remodel. I suppose that is a creative process too.
I would like to get them organized since I’m usually surprised when I come across one and see something I never worked on. Sometimes it’s for the best. Bad ideas are good to see in retrospect too. They can be made into something better or you can learn from them and see growth.
Julie, thanks for commenting. I, like you mentioned, need to organize my journals better, they are a bit of a mess. It’s just finding the time. And you are correct, bad ideas can be made into something better. I believe that’s sort of a topic for an upcoming post. Again, thanks for your ideas.
Thanks for writing up your thoughts on Joel’s show. I caught the Saturday night show in Roseville and was googling for more insights on his ideas. You’ve done a great job of crystallizing a lot of the creative concepts I took away from the talk.
As for journaling, I’m pretty grateful for Google Docs and Dropbox. It makes capturing my ideas a pretty simple process.
Bryan! Thanks so much for commenting. I was at that Saturday night show as well and it was so much fun. I always learn so much. Glad you found the blog here and found it insightful.
I too use dropbox to store stuff as well. As I said, I’m more of a writer type, so I’m less visual. Entering things in my phone and have it sync is super nice.